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January Writing Contest

Each month we hold a writing contest for our members, by our members. Writers are given parameters, such as a word count and/or a prompt. Entries are judged and discussed blindly. For January, writers were assigned the prompt of Opposite Day (January 25) and encouraged to work with the theme of opposites.

The Opposite of Sad

by K.M. Whitney

The alarm sounds. It doesn’t wake me though, I have been awake for at least an hour and a half. Just like yesterday and the day before that, all it does is tell me that I have to get out of bed. I reach over to place my hand on the cold and empty space next to me, just like I have for the past ninety-two days. It is a habit now, a bad habit. It means that I start each day with both a physical and mental reminder that he is gone.

I sit up, as tears well in my eyes. This isn’t a habit, thank goodness, but today is… was, our anniversary, so I am not surprised by them. I look at the framed picture of us on my nightstand, kiss the pad of my index finger, and then place it against Conner’s face. I let myself stare at the picture for just a bit longer this morning, although, this too is becoming a habit. Then, with all the strength I can muster, I shuffle to the bathroom we used to share and turn on the shower.

I emerge twenty minutes later, toweling off my hair as my mind continues to wander through memories of anniversaries past. Ten was not enough. I sit on the edge of the bed wrapped tight in the faded white robe he borrowed from the hotel we stayed at for our fifth anniversary. If I hold it to my nose and breathe in hard enough, I swear I can still smell him, as if he just wore it the day before. The tears pour freely now and, just as I am running through excuses I could give my boss not to come in today, my phone buzzes.

It is a notification from my news app. Absentmindedly, I read the three headlines. Gas prices are two cents lower than last week, some professional athlete said something that offended someone else, and today is apparently Opposite Day. I am about to set my phone back on the nightstand, but something about the last headline has me staring at the screen until it goes black.

Opposite Day.

As I repeat those two words in my head, something happens that I don’t expect. I smile.

Wait, is this real?

I reach up to touch my lips, thinking I am imagining the movement, but no, they are turned up in a real smile. Then, as if I have just snorted powdered serotonin, a warm and bubbly feeling fills my chest. I laugh out loud. Hard. When I finally gather myself, I look back at the picture of Conner and me.

“Do you see this?” I say, turning the phone to his smiling face. “You always thought these unofficial holidays were so stupid.”

I laugh again as a memory floods my mind. Conner had been ranting about National Whipped Cream Day being something grocery stores invented to sell whipped cream. But the next week, he was telling me we needed to order pizza because we just had to celebrate National Pizza Day. I tried to point out his hypocrisy, but all he did was tell me that the longer I put off ordering, the more I was dishonoring the pizza gods.

After that, whenever we needed an excuse for a date night or something to break up the monotony in our week, we would google what “holiday” was coming up. It became a sort of tradition. A tradition that I'd thought was lost.

Another smile takes over my face as I imagine what he would have said if he found out our anniversary fell on Opposite Day. He would have had more fun with it than any grown man should.

In an instant, my mind is made up. I know it won’t make the pain go away forever, but it will let me have him with me for one more day.

I stand up, my newfound purpose giving me more energy than I thought was possible, and let Conner’s old robe drop to the floor. I walk to our… my closet and go straight for a bin on the floor that I haven’t opened in a long time. I pull out old sweaters, socks that have lost their match, and jeans that I tell myself I will fit into again if I just lose five more pounds--until I find it. A frilly pink robe that my mother-in-law gave me for Christmas one year. One that I have never and would never wear.

I don the robe and go back into the bathroom to continue with my morning routine. As soon as I see myself in the ghastly robe, I know I made the right choice.

Today, I will be the opposite of sad.

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